Zelophobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by an
abnormal, irrational, and intense fear of jealousy and/or
intense emotion. As a result, people with a severe form
of the condition try to suppress their emotions and can
appear emotionally numb. Such a person can appear
very quiet, reserved, and non-reactive even in
response to situations (e.g., death of a family member;
winning a prize) that would typically result in a strong
The emotional suppression in zelophobia can apply to negative emotions (e.g., sadness)
or positive emotions (e.g, joy). The condition is often caused by some type of prior
traumatic experience that involved strong emotions which the person could not cope well
with. An example is exposure to abuse, domestic violence, or death of a close relative.
Sometimes zelophobia can occur in people who have been punished for expressing
strong emotions, such as being punished for crying. Sometimes, the condition may be
learned from close others who displayed the same aversion to strong emotions. An
example is a child who learns this behavior from a parent.
Although the zelophobic person has a fear of intense emotions and will suppress them,
the person still experiences anxiety and their condition affects daily functioning in some
way. Zelophobia can be treated with psychological counseling. Severe cases can also
be treated with medication to decrease anxiety.
Zelophobia comes from the Greek word "zelos" meaning "zeal," and the Greek word "phobos" meaning
"fear." Put the two words together and you get "zeal fear." Zeal is related to jealousy because someone
who is full of zeal is passionately in pursuit of something. Jealous people are also in pursuit of something,
which is why they are bothered if others have something that they do not.